Are you aware that your perception shapes your experience of reality with impressions from previous experiences?
It only changes when you stretch into new territory to discover more authentic aspects of yourself, when something unexpected challenges your fixed ideas, or when certain events completely shatter your illusions. Otherwise, your ego-mind tends to reinforce outdated beliefs and patterns of perception simply because they’re familiar.
The psychological theory of cognitive dissonance states that we hold the inner drive to maintain a harmonious interaction (or cognitive consistency) between our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. So if new information contradicts our beliefs, it creates feelings of discomfort because there’s a “dissonance” pointing at a mental inconsistency in need of resolution.
When this happens, we either have to change our beliefs by integrating the new information, we adjust our thoughts to justify old beliefs against the new information, or we find ways to discredit or ignore the new information. Unfortunately, the most common scenario is clinging to old, familiar beliefs and dynamics rather than making the effort to grow out of them, even if what’s familiar is detrimental or destructive, because the ego-mind triggers the fear of the unknown.
A simple example of cognitive dissonance is being forced into a behavior that clashes with your self-perception, such as having to lie when you see yourself as an honest person. But it can get as complex as the absurd reasons people come up with, and live by, to justify staying in a cult or cult-like group when disturbing or contradictory information about it comes to light.
This is because the ego-mind creates emotional blinders with unconscious guilt and fear (what feels like “dissonance”) to keep you in ignorance of the truth. Since it may jeopardize the attachment to your self-images and beliefs, or to certain people, skirting around the pain is an easier “quick fix.” However, it maintains an outdated perception that doesn’t allow you to grow, evolve, or break free from the past.
The world is made of ego and upholds ego, so its power-based social structures reflect and reinforce the inherent power dynamics between your egoic sense of self and your sense of otherness—that is, between your authentic, individual expression and the authority figures you internalized during childhood that continue unconsciously directing your behavior.
The External World Reflects Your Sense of Otherness
This is why most people are so quick to give their power to their otherness projected as religious, political, and spiritual leaders or by worshiping the celebrities and wealthy figures they view as role models. As long as your attention is on others, your ego is in control of your life. You simply react to a life that appears separate from you without truly embracing it.
This imbalance has now exploded into innumerable cults and cult-like groups led by self-proclaimed gurus, religious prophets, New Age rebels, spiritualized con artists, sexist and racist “revolutionaries,” and conspiracy theorists of all kinds attracting people, both in person and online, through the beliefs they share as well as an egoic need for validation and belonging (see How Your Illusions Create a ‘Halo Effect’).
These are expressions of the ego archetype that divides, separates, and craves control, so we find folks adopting a hippie lifestyle while upholding a nazi philosophy of life, or “channels” of alien beings instigating conspiracies against those whose power they secretly envy, and people gathering around all sorts of contradictory philosophical blends to feel superior to others.
We live in the age of information, and the ego-mind will use any and all information to direct and control human behavior. Its purpose is to maintain the delusion of duality and separation, to prevent the soul from merging back with the Oneness of its original nature, for which self-awareness is required. None of these cults would exist if the individual sense of otherness didn’t overpower the sense of self (see Is Your Ego-Mind Gaslighting You?), thus clouding our soul’s inherent drive for individual expression (see Why Individuation Is Essential For Spiritual Freedom).
The need for validation and belonging is too strong a pull when our inner wounds haven’t been nurtured, which means we haven’t taken spiritual responsibility for our own happiness. But if you understand that the outer world is a projection of ego, and your life a personalized movie about yourself, you can observe it to recognize what you need to let go of in yourself to be free.
The key is to shift your perception from otherness to self, redirecting the ego-mind toward the Inner Self—the true you—where it dissolves. As it slowly disappears, you can see yourself more clearly; as a result, you see things and people more clearly as well, without the impulse to compare or compete, or to prove anything (see Do You Have a Fixed or an Open Mindset?). You realize that the beliefs you’ve held on so tightly to are thoughts repeated over and over that create the external world, with its rigid, imbalanced structures; but they have nothing to do with the truth of who you are or the divine nature of reality, which is Consciousness.
Then it’s easier to dismiss the distorted patterns of self-perception that keep you spinning in the past, colored by childhood experiences when you had no power, no voice, and no real choices but to identify with the behavior of those around you. And as you develop dispassion for the world, you uncover your own divinity, beyond all concepts and labels, and all attachments and fears: the eternal Awareness where all external objects appear and disappear, fluctuate and transform without disturbing your peace.
As a true seeker, your first step toward spiritual freedom is the intellectual understanding that you are not in the world, but that the world is in you, for you are Divine Consciousness experiencing itself in human form. Without self-awareness, however, all you can perceive is your own wounded reflection of ego. So contact me today to transform your life into an individualized roadmap toward emotional and spiritual freedom!
© 2020 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.